Most successful entrepreneurs that I’ve met have a balanced approach to empathy, deep when required and non-existent when really necessary. On the other hand, I witness owners that aren’t so balanced. Those that have too much empathy, frequently worry way too much how a given decision or request will be accepted by their employees and regularly succumb to the slightest resistance. This failure to follow through on their decision, even though deep down inside they know it’s the right to do, often limits their success or ability to move the company forward.
“In many cases these companies find it difficult to keep good people”
Conversely, having no empathy can be equally limiting. Individuals with no empathy are regularly referred to as tyrannical or worse by their employees. Right, wrong or indifferent these owners don’t care how their decisions will impact the individuals that work for the organization. It’s their way or the highway. In many cases these companies find it difficult to keep good people because their lack of respect or don’t seek their input. More often than not, those companies are left with mediocre employees that are unwillingly or unable to leave even though they would like to.
Having a balanced approach to empathy is one of the best attributes a leader can have. Taking into account the impact and feelings a decision can have on employees and then adjusting if they receive valid feedback is a sign that you respect and appreciate input and that you are open to feedback.
“Taking the time to explain, goes a long way”
There are occasions when a decision is not open to debate. It could be a change in direction, a new policy or any number of unpleasant decisions we as owners are forced to make once in a while. In these situations, simply taking the time to explain the rationale for the decision, goes a long way to minimizing any hard feelings.
Having the right balance of empathy is akin to the beds in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Not too soft, not too hard, but just right.
I’m Greg Weatherdon and this has been your small business minute.
Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2016
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